HOW PERSEUS SLEW THE GORGON
So Perseus started on his journey, going dryshod over land and sea, and his heart was high and joyful, for the sandals bore him each day a seven days’ journey.
And at last by the shore of a freezing sea, beneath the cold winter moon, he found the Three Gray Sisters. There was no living thing around them, not a fly, not a moss upon the rocks.
They passed their one eye each to the other, but for all that they could not see, and they passed the one tooth from one to the other, but for all that they could not eat, and they sat in the full glare of the moon, but they were none the warmer for her beams.
And Perseus said, “Tell me, O Venerable Mothers, the path to the daughters of the Evening Star.”
They heard his voice, and then one cried, “Give me the eye that I may see him,” and another, “Give me the tooth that I may bite him,” but they had no answer for his question.
Then Perseus stepped close to them, and watched as they passed the eye from hand to hand. And as they groped about, he held out his own hand gently, till one of them put the eye into it, fancying that it was the hand of her sister.
At that Perseus sprang back and laughed and cried, “Cruel old women, I have your eye, and I will throw it into the sea, unless you tell me the path to the daughters of the Evening Star and swear to me that you tell me right.”
Then they wept and chattered and scolded, but all in vain. They were forced to tell the truth, though when they told it, Perseus could hardly make out the way. But he gave them back the eye and leaped away to the southward, leaving the snow and ice behind.
At last he heard sweet voices singing, and he guessed that he was come to the garden of the daughters of the Evening Star.
When they saw him they trembled and said, “Are you come to rob our garden and carry off our golden fruit?”
But Perseus answered, “I want none of your golden fruit. Tell me the way which leads to the Gorgon that I may go on my way and slay her.”
“Not yet, not yet, fair boy,” they answered, “come dance with us around the trees in the garden.”
“I cannot dance with you, fair maidens, so tell me the way to the Gorgon, lest I wander and perish in the waves.”
Then they sighed and wept, and answered, “The Gorgon! She will freeze you into stone.”
But Perseus said, “The gods have lent me weapons, and will give me wisdom to use them.”
Then the fair maidens told him that the Gorgon lived on an island far away, but that whoever went near the island must wear the hat of darkness, so that he could not himself be seen. And one of the fair maidens held in her hand the magic hat.
While all the maidens kissed Perseus and wept over him, he was only impatient to be gone. So at last they put the magic hat upon his head, and he vanished out of their sight.